CH-P: Fairbanks-Morse's Last Stronghold

A four-unit freight prepares to leave Nuevo Casas Grandes on 29 March 1972 (Ed Von Nordeck photo).

History of the Fairbanks-Morse H24-66 "Trainmaster" has been well documented in the pages of the hobby press and produced in miniature by railroad model makers. Yet, there remains one facet of their fabled past that remains somewhat vague. It took place in northern Mexico on Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico (CH-P), a 650-mile regional railroad.

CH-P owned the only two H24-66s to exist beyond the southern most borders of the United States. Much travelled, the pair were build in 1953 originally for the Delaware Lackawanna & Western as #852 and 859. DL&W's marriage to the Erie Railroad in 1960 saw the the two-some eventually wear the garb of the merged Erie-Lackawanna as #1852 and 1859. To the disappointment of many fans, their time on the EL came to an end during the summer of 1968 when the two FM six-motors were sold to Baltimore locomotive dealer Striegel.

The trainmaster pair were leased by Striegel in 1969 to CH-P where they became #534 and 535. Uncertainty still exists as to whether the E-L cast-offs were actually used in revenue service by the regional rail line. It is likely the six-axle units would have been well suited to CH-P's roller coaster profile. Supposedly, the railroad took title to the six-motor FMs in 1971, reportedly to serve strictly as part sources for CH-P's substantial fleet of FM-built 1600-hp road-switchers.

Beyond the ex-EL 2400-hp brutes, CH-P had been known as an active participant in the used locomotive market during the mid-1960s. The acquisition of six H16-44s (ex-EL 1930-1935) marked the Mexican railways's first venture in to the second-hand market; it was followed soon afterwards by the purchase of two additional H16-44s from General Electric of ex-New York Central #7005 and 7011. Collectively, they became CH-P #526-533. The newcomers increased CH-Ps FM roster to 37 units, including one 1200-hp yard switcher.

At the time, CH-P's entire diesel road-switcher fleet had been built by FM with high s hort-hoods, including the last locomotives FM ever built which were delivered in 1963. A modernization program during the latter part of the 1960s netted a chopped nose for several units.

Note: A special thank you goes to Ed Von Nordeck who granted permission to use many of the images that comprise this CH-P profile, and to Evan Werkema for his early research work.

Photo Gallery

Spotted at Madera Mexico, four-axle #510 was one of 37 H16-44s on the CH-P.

(George Werner photo on 23 March 1973)**

Rebuilt in April 1973, the #511 received a fresh coat of paint and script lettering.

(Richard R. Wallin photo at Proviso Yard Chicago)**

The #512 prepares a CH-P passener consist at Nuevo Casas Grandes.

(Bill Farmer photo on 29 March 1972/Ed Von Nordeck collection)

A large Chichuahua al Pacifico logo was applied to FM #518 prior to 1975.

(Ed Von Nordeck photo)

CH-P #520 got the chopped-nose treatment, along with fresh paint and lettering.

(Paul Hunnell photo at Chicago on 11 January 1973)**

#525 departs Los Mocus, Mexico with a 25-year anniversary train.

(Ed VonNordeck photo, 22 March 1986).

An early phase H16-44, #526 wears another slightly modified CH-P attire.

(Jim Herold photo at Chihuahua, Mexico on 10 March 1974) **

Ex-Erie Lackawanna #1930 was acquired by CH-P in 1964 and re-#d 526 (left).

(Don Ross photo collection.

Another second-hand purchase, #532 had been built as New York Central #5105

(George C. Werner photo at La Junta, Mexico on 23 March 1973)**

The #5105 spent 17 years on the NYC before being traded to GE, then CH-P.

(Tom Smart photo at Terre Haute, Indiana on 28 January 1967).

Questions persist as to whether or not CH-P's two H24-66s ever generated revenue.

(Jim Herold photo at La Junta, Mexico on 10 March 1974). **

In a prior life, CH-P #534 was owned / operated by the Erie Lackawanna.

(Jim Parker photo in September 1967)

CH-P #601, along with sisters 602, 603 & 604, were steam-generator equipped.

(Ed VonNoreck photo at Nueveo Casas Grandes on 29 March 1972)

CH-P H12-44 #301 might possibly be the only FM 1000/1200-hp switcher in Mexico.

(George C. Werner photo at Chihuahua City, Mexico on 22 March 1973) **

Post CH-P Photos

Monument marks 25th anniversary opening of Copper Canyon line.

(Ed Von Nordeck photo in 1986)

In 1988, the CH-P and its equipment (including #602) was acquired by NdeM.

(Bill Farmer photo / Ed Von Nordeck collection,)

A fictional SCOP #101 (ex-CH-P 525) is ready for cameo appearance in Mexican film.

(Bill Farmer photo /Ed Von Mordeck collection)

Reference sources:
  • Ed Von Nordeck
  • Evan Werkema (via TrainOrders)
  • Fairbanks-Morse Locomotives by Jim Boyd



** Photo R. Craig Rutherford collection

* * * CH-P's FM Fleet * * *

Model Road No. Bldr Nmbr Bldr Date Notes
H12-44 301 FM 12L1111 8/55 Ex-CHP 70
H16-44 501 & 502 FM 16L943, 944 8/55 --
503-506 FM 16L945, 946, 970, 971 7/55 --
507 & 508 FM 16L1002, 16L1158 2/55, 11/57 --
509-513 FM 16L1181-1185 2-3/59 --
514-519 FM 16L1189-1194 2-3/61 --
520-525 FM 16L1196-1201 2-3/61 1-2/63
526-531 FM 16L687-692 12/52 Ex-Erie Lckawanna 1930-1935 < nee Delaware Lackawanna & Western 930-935
532 & 533 FM 16L687-692 7/51 Ex-PC 5105 & 5112 < nee New York Central 7005 & 7012
H24-66 534 FM 24L736 6/53 Ex-Erie Lckawanna 1852 < nee Delaware Lackawanna & Western 852
535 FM 24L743 6/53 Used as a parts source; ex-Erie Lckawanna 1859 < nee Delaware Lackawanna & Western 859
H16-44 600-602 FM 16L1186-1188 12/60 --
603 & 604 FM 16L1186-1188 2-3/63 --
Formatted by: R. Craig

New: 1 October 2022

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